Friday, August 24, 2012

Laura Marcusse Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-5: Jerry Chavez

If I made a list of the fighters I really wish more people knew about, Laura Marcusse would be at the top of that list. An amateur with an impressive 4-1 record who has finished three of her four victories. While she was already involved in Martial Arts, she did not intend to actually fight in MMA when she started training it. Needless to say, she did decide to fight and has been real impressive up to this point and has a very bright future going forward.

Q: Can you talk about how you initially became interested in MMA?
A: I have a background in traditional Martial Arts. I did Kempo Karate when I was a teenager. What got me interested in that was I basically did a cardio kickboxing class at this Karate school and saw the other classes they offered. I got my black belt when I was eighteen. I didn't do anything in Martial Arts for quite awhile during college and for a couple years after college. I stumbled onto MMA when I was at a local gym and saw two guys grappling off in this corner of the gym. I had been thinking about getting back into some form of Martial Art and really wanted something that was more realistic and competitive than the Karate I had been doing. I saw what they were doing and thought it was cool and asked questions and it went from there.

Q: Going in with the Karate background, was the ground game something you were able to pick up fairly easy?
A: It was! Grappling is probably my forte, although my stand-up game has improved immensely, so I like to think of myself as a well-rounded fighter, but grappling is still my favorite. Is tarted that when I started training MMA. It was weird at first, your first lesson in grappling is awkward because you are not used to being that close and intimate with a complete stranger. But I took to it really quickly. I don't know if it is something about women or having the awesome instructor at the time. The stand-up part has been a little more work for me, which seems counter intuitive given that Karate is my background. I felt I had to re-learn things. I still use certain techniques I learned in Karate but have transitioned into more of a Muay-Thai style.

Q: How long did you train before your first fight?
A: I had no intention of fighting. I just wanted to learn a new Martial Art. So I didn't fight for a year and a half. A year and a half of training consistently. I thought "I think about this all the time, I spend my money on this, all my mental and physical energy, I gotta try it once and see if I can handle it". I thought of it as a one off thing at the time.

Q: A lot of parents might not like the idea of their daughter getting punched in the face, did any family react negative to it?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I come from a real conservative Christian family. It has less to do with faith and more to do with the fact that growing up, neither of my parents played sports. I come from a very intellectual academic family. I don't think they were used to that idea, then throw in to that a sport like MMA, and they thought I was crazy. By that time I was twenty-six and it wasn't up to them at that point haha.

Q: Where you nervous or excited or both for that first fight?
A: I was super nervous. I am still nervous for each fight. Even if I one hundred percent feel confident about who I am fighting, I get nervous. The nature of MMA is everyone has a chance to win, which makes it an exciting sport to watch.You never know when the under-dog is gonna come back and get a good shot it or when the more experienced fighter is gonna get caught. I had never been punched before by someone with one hundred percent bad intentions. I was nervous to know what it would feel like and how I would react, but it turned out alright.

Q: Most recently you won a decision against Nadia Nixon, the first win where you didn't finish the opponent, looking back was going the distance good for you that you know you can do it?
A: Yeah it was. She is better than her record, she has fought a lot of tough girls. Anyone that fights her would tell you she is tough and hard to finish. There was a point in the fight where I got close and over committed and she jumped guard and got me tangled up. I have respect for her. It was a good experience to go all three rounds. It was a battle and a very close fight.

Q: Off that fight, what aspect of your game most needs work?
A: I think it is more of an experience thing. I had the stand-up well handled. Although at 105 she is a unique opponent because she is so lanky, her arms are incredibly long and she is super tall for the weight class. For me, it was more sticking to my game plan and having enough experience to adjust on the fly. She was able to get close and jump guard three times. It drove me crazy because I thought she might do that but for whatever reason I could not keep her from getting ahold of me and pulling me down. I was really happy. A lot of people went away probably thinking "Laura isn't as good a grappler as I thought", but I went in with the mentality of not playing the Jiu-Jitsu game with her or anyone at that point. I do it too much in the gym and fall back on that so I went in with the mentality of being more of a wrestler and throw punches on top no matter what she is doing. So I hope people had a sense of my Jiu-Jitsu based on the defense I threw out there. There was one time I went for a submission attempt but it was at the end of the round so a lot of people didn't even catch it. I think just more experience and time in the cage where I can slow down my mind and stick to my game-plan. I felt good. It was a close fight but I felt good. I think she was frustrated because she had three really good submission attempts that seemed close, and I am not saying they weren't, but if Nadia and I went into a grappling match she would be surprised about my level of grappling because I was intentionally not doing it in that fight.

Q: When we were first talking about this interview you were hoping you had a fight lined up, but it didn't happen, is it frustrating wanting that experience and not being able to get a fight?
A: Absolutely! It drives me crazy. This is my third time since my fight with Nadia. I have no problem getting on good cards like Blue Corner or Titan but it is an issue of finding amateur opponents at 105 who are within a certain distance. Nadia can hang at 115 because she is so tall but I cant fight at 115 cause I walk 113-114. So it is hard to find legit 105'rs. Even great promotions like Blue Corner and Titan don't want to pay to bring in a whole team for an amateur, it doesn't make sense financially. There are people I would love to fight but the distance gets in the way. At the moment I have hopefully a fight in October but don't have an opponent yet and RFA in Nebraska has offered me a pro fight. I am hoping once I break into the pro ranks the distance will be less of an issue. There are a lot of pros at 105. Invicta has had two or three fights on their cards.

Q: Does your record also make it hard to find opponents?
A: Yeah I think my record makes a little bit of a difference. I have one loss. I lost my second fight. It was s situation where it was a sketchy situation, my opponent didn't make weight and a lot of other things. Even then, when your record is 4-1 people take you more seriously. There is a limited number of people within a one state circumference. It is getting frustrating for sure.

Q: Are there any fighters you enjoy watching and learning from?
A: Yes! I have always liked Jessica Penne. I am trying to find an excuse to go to California and train with her. I feel like I can identify with her. A little tall for the weight class, similar build, and her strength seems to be her grappling. I love watching her. I love watching any high level women's MMA. I am so excited Invicta is in my back yard and I can go to the fights.

Q: Speaking of Invicta, is that a goal for you?
A: Yeah! In fact, they asked if I was interested in being on this last July card. Between my coaches and myself I wanted a little more experience. I am a little frustrated I gave up the opportunity and I am definitely on their radar. It seems like it is a division they are trying to build. So hopefully they keep me on the radar and I show them I can deliver a home town crowd and be on the level they expect their fighters to be on.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My coaches Brian Davidson and James Krause. I am sure everyone has a lot to say about their coaches, but I am blown away how much time they give to their students. I look up them in so many ways. No Limit Wheels and Century 21 All-Pro are my two main sponsors and they do an awesome job helping me. My training partners, I am so mad Jessica Philippus is moving to Nebraska. I appreciate what you do for women's MMA. There are a couple people really on the pulse and you are one of them. I appreciate what you do for fighters and bodybuilders also.

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